Gang crime costs Danish taxpayers 315 million kroner (42 million euros) annually through costs to the legal system, a new study has found.
The analysis, carried out by the Ministry of Justice's research department, is the first to attempt to set out the costs of gang crime related to the legal system.
The total cost in 2016 was 315 million kroner, the study found.
That amount is broken down by the study into various forms of costs for victims, preventative and exit strategies for gang members, costs of pressing police charges, court fees and prison services, Politiken reports.
“This is an enormous sum. 315 million kroner. That could have been used on children, schools or fixing holes in the road. It emphasises that it is important that we continue the fight against gangs and criminality,” justice spokesperson for the Danish People's Party (DF) Peter Kofod Poulsen said.
DF called for the ministry to commission the study in 2016.
“It is important that Danes are able to see this issue. If you look at the costs of the prison service, a large amount of it is driven by gang crime. I think Danes should know about that,” Poulsen said.
Nichlas Permin Berger, a researcher and criminologist with the Danish Center for Social Science Research, said that the figures published by the ministry did not give the full picture of the societal cost of gang crime.
“The figure is relative. Is it a lot relative to what? Furthermore, there are costs to, for example, victims, families and local communities that are not taken into account by the study,” Berger said.
“It is also important to remember that this knowledge does not support harsher punishments but rather illustrates the potential for prevention and early intervention,” he added.
Recent government initiatives – including this year's ‘ghetto plan' have often sought to implement stronger punishments for crime.
But putting gang members in crowded prisons could backfire, Berger said.
“Research suggests that prisons in the long run produce criminality rather than reduce it. When you lock up members of criminal groups together with other criminals, you create a large recruitment potential,” he said.
Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen was unavailable for comment to Ritzau.